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Love Your Data? Protect Your Data
By: June Bachman, Wendy Ogryzek and Teresa Mitchell ~ 2/9/2009

If you love your data you should protect your data. From what you ask? If we slice the lost-data-pie-chart, hard drive failure gets the biggest piece at 44%. If you also include portable drive failure that percentage jumps to 67%. Other causes include human error (e.g., when a novice attempts to recover data from a malfunctioning hard drive -- recovery should be left to the pros) viral contamination and software corruption. Those of our readers who reside near the fault lines that crisscross the Puget Sound Basin might assume that natural disasters deserve some of the data loss pie chart. And they do -- a meager 1%. What the lost-data-pie-chart tells us is that if we love our data we should be backing up our hard drives and learning how to recover what is stored on them in the event they go south to San Andreas without leaving a forwarding address. Additionally, we should inoculate our hard drives with software updates and anti-virus protection software.

Although backing up your home computer's hard drive requires little time and as little as a $1 investment in a CD-ROM, backing up your business data is a far more daunting task. Most small businesses and independents rely on their computer day in and day out to manage the details of their business: who bought what when for how much and who didn't buy what when and why not. What happens if such vast amounts of data are lost? How will that impact your daily business functions?

Most of us have lost data, a file here, a file there. Though when all of your data disappears in a nanosecond, the situation becomes critical especially when you calculate the hours that it took you to-date to create all of the files, records, correspondence, forms, account records et al and then imagine trying to resurrect those files, records, correspondence and forms in a crisis, in a business-not-as-usual environment and you will quickly see the need to love your data enough to back it up.

40%  of small businesses don't backup their data

Data includes insurance policies, your client contact information, tax records for eFilers, contracts, Requests for Proposals, blog posts, email archives, sales records, vendor contact information, inventory management records, your 2008 business expense reports, your QuickBooks records, et al. Think of your data as anything that you produce with pen and paper, contract for or use a computer to create, manage or record.

To develop a data backup plan:

1. Identify what needs to be backed up.

· This could be as simple as client contacts and last year's tax return or as complicated as two servers with 5 terabytes worth of inventory and sales data.

2. How data needs to be backed up -- electronically, with a hardcopy or both?

· Some things like your business' liability insurance policy should be scanned and stored electronically as well as in hard copy form.

· The forms you use frequently and client contact information should be stored in both hardcopy form and in an electronic recovery vault.

3. Where the backup data will be stored?

· The only viable answer here is offsite either in your garage in a hermetically sealed chamber or in an e-vault with remote recovery through an internet connection. You don't want to have your recovery data involved in the same disaster as your hard drive, or even in the same room.

4. How frequently your data needs to be backed up?

· Once a week to ensure your most recent data is secure and retained.

5. What information or functionality, if it was lost, do I need to keep your business functioning?

· This question should be posed to your front line staff as well. Think email program, client, vendor and staff contact information here. The basics.

6. Are you inoculating your PC with up-to-date anti-virus protection?

· Your business PCs need regular viral protection. NOD is a great solution if you were thinking about an anti-virus

7. Are you receiving automatic software and operating system updates?

· Software and operating systems are commonly launched with bugs. The bugs are found after launch of the product, even though many were vetted through the product's beta testing. Sign up for regular updates with your products' manufacturers.

 

Share Knowledge

More than one person needs to know how to restore and find data. For example, if you use

It takes 19 days and costs $17,000 to retype 20MB of data

the bWyse Backup system to backup your data, someone besides you should know in a data melt down situation to call 425-885-9976 24/7. If you are storing your data in your garage someone should know which shelf it's on.

Actions

· Regular backup schedule. Create a regular backup schedule ensuring your most recent data is protected.

· Create an emergency kit. Print, scan and store hardcopies of frequently used forms, client and vendor contact information, staff emergency contact number -- the bones of what you need to do your job when left with only a phone to do it.

· Store your data offsite, in a secure location. You don't want to keep both your data and backup data in the same physical location and risk losing both.

· Scan critical documents for electronic storage. (Insurance policies, client contracts).

60% of businesses that lose their data shut down within 6 months

· Label your data. Whether you store your data electronically, on CD-ROMS or in a cardboard box filled with file folders each needs to be labeled clearly. A label should instantly tell you what is in the file, on the CD-ROM or in the box.

· Automatic software and operating system updates. Go to the websites of your software and operating system's manufacturer and sign up for automatic updates.

Why not spend a penny today for chance to spend thousands tomorrow while you are in the throes of grieving your data loss? If you truly love your business' data, those seemingly endless number of files you painstakingly worked so hard to create, it needs protection. Love your data, protect your data.